Taking a chance on ourselves

Tanis Angove

Part 1

Taking a chance on ourselves is sometimes scary, but also so good for the soul!

I have always wanted to write a book. Three years ago I started working on it, held focus groups and got feedback on my ideas, and thought I could write and work full time. I was like- this will take me a few months tops! Silly.

I did write on the weekends for a while, and then the pandemic hit and after working at home all week, dealing with the stress and ambiguity of the pandemic, I could not stomach spending more time staring at my computer screen. I lost my writing mojo. So years later, I decided to leave my busy and rewarding consulting job and write full time. I am going to fully commit to my dreams, which is both scary and exhilarating.

We define our selves by our jobs, get validated by that successful presentation or coaching conversation, and it keeps us so busy we have a perfect excuse for not doing the things we know are important, but intimidate us. We think- "What if I try and fall flat on my face? What if I can't do it?" When I go to that place I think of the wise words of my neighbour growing up, "If you don't ask, the answer is always no." If we don't take that chance, we will never know.

So here I am, writing, off work. Do I call myself a writer? Or Just unemployed...? Not sure, I will see where it goes. What I do know at this point is I won't regret the decision. Oh, and it allowed me to have an amazing early retirement party with my wonderful colleagues and peers!

Take time to do the things you always wanted, and don't wait too long, life is unpredictable. Invest in yourself, it's a win win.

Part 2

#feedback ... the anxiety causing gift we hate to love.

As I continue on in my #writing journey, I have come to a place where I have asked for feedback on my work. I have been writing in a vacuum for months and it's time to check-in with other humans. It all makes perfect sense to me, but I wrote it... is it brilliant? Is it complete gibberish? It is time to find where on that spectrum I am landing.

I have asked for feedback before, however this is much more personal. This is my work, no one asked me to do it, or gave me any parameters, I have no one to blame if it's bad... It's terrifying. It is also very exciting. I get to have open and real conversations about things that mean a lot to me, things I have thought about for a long time, things that I hope can help and inspire others. I am writing for the reader and so I am curious to see what lands for people, what is confusing or unclear, and what I can do to make things better.

This is feedback. It's good and it's bad, and it's the stuff in between. As stated by Sheila Heen in her book- Thanks for the Feedback- "[Feedback] is how we learn about ourselves from our experiences and from other people- how we #learn from life." This is important stuff.

Feedback is scary to receive and it's also hard for people to give, so if we really truly want it, we need to ask. I have asked people I respect and trust and I know will be honest with me, and I have provided specific criteria to help guide their thinking, and help them focus on the things I am interested in #learning about. Research on interpersonal accuracy shows that when we don't ask for feedback, the feedback we get is more positive and less accurate. When we ask for feedback, it is more specific and honest. So take a deep breath and ask, no matter what happens, I am sure you will learn something.

I am grateful for the people who take the time to review my work and give me honest feedback, it takes effort and emotional labor. Hopefully my work is a blend of good and 'needs #improvement'... fingers crossed.

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